5 More Top Strategies to Prepare for Fall Fundraising

ducks in a row, swimmingIn Part 1 of this two-part series of “Top 10 Strategies to Prepare for Fall Fundraising” we covered.

  1. Clean up Data
  2. Purge Mailing Lists
  3. Review Staff, Vendors and Freelancers
  4. Set Priority Objectives Based on Last Year’s Results
  5. Solidify a Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign

Today we’ll look at:

  1. Send Impact Reports to Set the Stage
  2. Stock Up on Compelling, Relevant Stories and Photos
  3. Connect with Major and Mid-Level Donors
  4. Prioritize Contacts with Mid-Level and Other Promising Supporters
  5. Plan Ahead to Welcome Donors to The Flock

Ready to get all your ducks in a row?

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Top 5 Strategies to Prepare for Fall Fundraising NOW

Ducks in a rowYou’ve got one month before fall fundraising season begins in earnest.

What will you do with it?

I’VE GOT 10 TOP STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU GET ALL YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW!

We’ll start with the first five today.

  1. Clean up Data
  2. Purge Mailing Lists
  3. Review Staff, Vendors and Freelancers
  4. Set Priority Objectives Based on Last Year’s Results
  5. Solidify a Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign

Next week we’ll look at:

  1. Send Impact Reports to Set the Stage
  2. Stock Up on Compelling, Relevant Stories and Photos
  3. Connect with Major and Mid-Level Donors
  4. Prioritize Contacts with Mid-Level and Other Promising Supporters
  5. Plan Ahead to Welcome Donors to The Flock

Ready?

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What Monkeys Can Teach Your Nonprofit

Monkey looking at youBabies can teach you the same thing.

If one baby does something, the others will want to ape them.

“Monkey see, monkey do.”

This is actually a psychological principle of influence and persuasion known as “social proof.”

It’s best explored in the 1984 groundbreaking book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. He outlines six principles of influence affecting human behaviors. They’re all well documented, and can be incredibly useful to fundraisers.

One of the most useful principles is the one we also know today as the “Yelp effect.” It’s a type of positive (or negative) word of mouth that can make or break your business. I know how often I’ve abandoned my cart after reading a negative review. You?

Word of mouth is perhaps the most powerful form of social media you can find, so it pays to leverage it to your advantage.

Even someone inclined to support your cause may not give unless you push the right buttons. Of all the ways to do that, social proof is among the easiest and most successful.

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How to Persuade New Donors to Join Your Nonprofit Mission

Children holding hands

There’s a first time for everything, if you will it

 

What makes us think a perfect stranger, who’s never given to our organization before, will choose to do so?  It’s highly counter intuitive.

People are most likely to continue doing what they’ve done before.
Commitment and consistency is one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence, and it’s useful in nonprofit marketing and fundraising. But only if you’ve got existing donors.
We talk a lot in fundraising professional circles about the folly of concentrating too many resources on donor acquisition and too little on donor retention. And for good reason. It’s significantly easier and more cost-effective to keep a current donor than to recruit a new one. Why?
It’s appreciably more difficult to get people to reach a new decision than to repeat an old one.
In fact, whenever I coach volunteers to do fundraising, I always suggest they remind current donors how many years they’ve already been giving to the organization.  This acts as a decision-making shortcut for these folks. Aha! They already decided this was a good idea.  No need to sweat it out again.  Done!
But… what if you’re a start-up organization that doesn’t have many donors?
What if your only choice is to go after first-time donors? How do you make a ‘sale’ if people are making a decision from scratch, with no previous history with you or knowledge about your vision, mission and values?
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Are Monthly Donors Good Legacy Giving Prospects

Old photosYou bet!

Yet they’re generally undervalued in this regard.

And it’s not just monthly donors who are undervalued.

It’s legacy giving in general.

How robust is your legacy giving program?

Legacy giving is largely misunderstood in the nonprofit world.  Too many organizations think it’s not for them. Why?

Do any of these statements sound like something you’ve felt or heard from others within your organization?

  • Legacy giving is complicated and overwhelming.
  • Legacy giving requires significant legal and financial expertise.
  • Legacy giving requires offering “vehicles” we’re not equipped to offer.

These are myths.

Really, all you need is expertise about your mission and the values your organization enacts.

You are a philanthropy facilitator, not an attorney or financial advisor.

As a philanthropy facilitator, it’s part of your job to help loyal supporters make their most passionate, heartfelt gifts. This enables them to enact their values, and to achieve a bit of immortality.

Here’s What’s True

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How to Find Your Nonprofit’s Highest Likelihood Major Donors

Hands, Heart, Silhouette, Setting SunIn 5 Indicators for Identifying the Best Potential Donors, a guest post on the Bloomerang blog from Ryan Woroniecki of Donor Search, the key indicators someone might be inclined to support you with a major philanthropic gift are laid out.  These indicators are, in order:

  1. Previous giving to your nonprofit
  2. Giving to other nonprofits
  3. Participation as a foundation trustee
  4. Giving to federal election campaigns
  5. Real estate ownership

One thing is indubitably true: the more you know about people the better you’ll be able to assess, and work with, their likelihood to invest with you philanthropically.

Another thing is also true: not all these indicators are created equal. They’re listed in order of importance above but, for my money, numero uno is far and away the most significant.

We hold these truths to be self-evident

The people most likely to become major donors to your organization are already known to you. You don’t have to do research to find them, or find friends to introduce you or gate-keepers to let you in. You only have to do one simple thing.

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10 Strategies to Skyrocket Major Gift Fundraising

Skyrocketing“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” So wrote Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

It’s the same with major donor fundraising, except you don’t ever really stop.  You just start up again. You do follow a prescribed path, however.  And here’s what it looks like:

  1. Before
  2. Ground Floor
  3. Explore
  4. Back Door
  5. Adore
  6. Mentor
  7. Ask For
  8. Implore
  9. Rapport
  10. Report

If you do this correctly, it becomes a transformational process for the donor. They want to stay connected and engaged and invested.  Which is why you don’t stop.  You follow up with “Some More.”

But first…

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S’WOT’s Up? The Future, That’s What: Your Crystal Ball for Business Success

Hand-held Crystal Ball

The reasons I love SWOT analyses is they’re all about looking at the present to divine the future.  And leaders need their crystal balls to:

    • Identify trends,
    • Anticipate change,
    • Be open to possibilities, and
    • Enable more effective, impactful work.
Sounds good, yes? But, let’s face it, it often seems easier to stick with the status quo. Crystal ball gazing and divining is not so easy. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
Taking an honest look at what’s working/what’s not working can be a very liberating thing for an organization to do. Once people agree on what’s not working, there is a freedom to abandon time-consuming processes not yielding substantial results or significant satisfaction.  This opens up whole new possibilities for allocation of resources, and can be a very exciting time within an organization.

Leadership is key!

SWOTs help leaders prepare for the future systematically and strategically. We’ve a lot invested in doing what we’ve always done. It takes courage and determination to ask the hard questions that break us out of old patterns and ruts. A structured approach can help.
A good SWOT gets all the stakeholders engaged in moving forward strategically.  A good SWOT is not static.  It’s a multi-step process.  If you’re not familiar with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), this is what it is in a nutshell:
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Important News about Relationship Fundraising: Stop Losing Donors

Broken Heart
Do you know how you may be breaking your donor’s heart? Keep it up, and they’ll break yours.

This is important.

It’s about a report that may change how you do fundraising.

It should.

Let me explain.

Unless you’ve been asleep at the wheel, by now you should know most nonprofits have been hemorrhaging donors for over a decade.

By tending to focus more on expensive, staff-intensive acquisition strategies like direct mail and special events, charities are bringing in one-time donors who never give to them again. It’s why I focus so much on donor retention strategies and exhort you to make them your priority strategy.

Why? Because otherwise all your acquisition efforts are wasted. The latest Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report  revealed an astounding 81% of first-time donors lapse. [BTW: This isn’t the report that’s going to change your modus operandi; it’s merely the rationale for the release of the report that will. Keep reading.] Of repeat donors, 39% lapse. This means, on average, charities retain only 45% of all donors. For every 100 new donors acquired, on average nonprofits lost 96 existing donors. That means you’re engaging in a whole lot of work, for a pretty miserable return on investment.

“Over 70% of people that we recruit into organizations never come back and make another gift, so we’re caught on this treadmill where we have to spend lots of money on acquisition which most nonprofits lose money on anyway, just to stand still.”

– Professor Adrian Sargeant,
Director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at Plymouth University

This is the proverbial three steps forward, two steps back – only worse!

This burn and churn strategy is killing nonprofits — and burning out the folks who work in them.

Why is it that for profits manage to retain 94% of customers, yet there’s such a huge disparity when it comes to nonprofits?

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What’s Going On? What Can We Do?

Love lettersI had a fundraising post all ready to launch today, but I just couldn’t do it.

The world seems wildly out of whack right now.  I can’t pretend it’s business as usual.

I try to stay away from “politics,” because I know that’s not why you read my blog. However, we live in a political world. And so do our nonprofits, our staff, our volunteers, our donors and our clients. Simply put, politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups.

Nonprofits cannot seal themselves off in little bubbles, pretending what’s happening in the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

That’s why, during the pandemic, I encouraged you to talk about how events touch those who rely on you. It’s why, all the time, I encourage you to relate your work to what’s in the news and top of mind to donors. Be it hurricanes, fires, famine, drought, social unrest, war, civil liberties, mass shootings, homophobia, racism, sexism, bigotry, or anything else horrifying to body, mind, heart and soul.

If it’s something you’re thinking about, you can bet it’s something your constituents are thinking about.

If you don’t address it, you risk coming across as unimportant, blind, shallow or out of touch. Being relevant, and meaningful, means getting inside your supporters’ heads and knowing what’s important to them. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? In what way do the emotions they’re currently experiencing interact with your mission? How can they help you, and you help them?

I don’t know how you’ve been feeling, but many folks I’ve been talking to have mentioned anger, outrage and fear. Even those who are happy about one or two things are deeply concerned about other developments. And this holds true for both sides. Listen to Fox News, then listen to MSNBC.  You’ll hear equal doses of horror. The pendulum has been swinging wildly, back and forth, and the world seems madly out of whack.

What can the social benefit sector do to bring things back into balance?

I keep coming back to the Golden Rule. What if none of us ever did anything to anyone else we didn’t want them to do unto us? What if we only treated others as we would want to be treated? It seems so simple. So logical. So in everyone’s best interest.

What is it about the human animal that leads the same people who don’t want government to impose mask or vaccine mandates on them wanting to impose no abortion mandates on others? Or, from the other perspective, those who don’t want government telling them they can’t smoke pot wanting to tell others they can’t carry guns? All of this “I can impose, but you can’t” is nonsense from the perspective of “do unto others.” Yet, we persist.

The only way to make sense of these things is through an understanding of balance. We must strive toward philanthropy (translated as “love of humanity”).

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